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Rebecca Shapiro

Rebecca Shapiro

Posted January 23, 2009 | 03:15 PM (EST)

War Crimes Accusations Mount Against Israel (SLIDESHOW: GRAPHIC)


While those living in Gaza attempt to return to daily life, the international community struggles to understand the 21-day war between Israel and Hamas. After a United Nations school became the target of GPS-guided mortars, Western foreign ministries and human rights groups alike began to question the ethical and moral guidelines of warfare. Officials question whether some rules of war were possibly violated by both Hamas and Israel. Today, the Los Angeles Times also reported on the ethical implications faced by some Israelis.

Moral questions also linger among Israeli peace activists troubled by the relative lack of public introspection over the destruction and civilian deaths wrought by their army's immense firepower during the fighting in the cramped territory. They say Hamas' abuses do not erase Israel's responsibility for such incidents as the shelling of a United Nations school that killed dozens of civilians sheltered there. Even if Hamas had to be weakened, they wonder how their nation, where memories of the Holocaust are so thoroughly embedded, could look past the plight of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped in a dense war zone they couldn't escape.


As the firing ceased and officials looked closer at the destruction left behind, white phosphorus shelling appeared to have been used by the Israel Defense Forces. Though commonly used by militaries to obstruct the view of enemy combatants during battle, international law prohibits the use of white phosphorus when targeting civilians. The Telegraph reports that, "At least four human rights groups are believed to be compiling suits alleging that Israelis perpetrated war crimes in planning or carrying out the three-week operation Cast Lead."

See a slideshow below for images from the UNRWA School in Beit Lahia, Gaza, and from the streets of Gaza. The slideshow contains graphic images.